LIMA, Peru (AP) — The controversial intelligence chief of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori on Monday pleaded guilty to charges in the 1992 massacre of six farmers who were accused of being members of a rebel group, taken from their homes by soldiers and executed in the town of Pativilca.
Vladimiro Montesinos, 78, pleaded guilty to charges of homicide, murder and forced disappearance, for which prosecutors are seeking a 25-year-sentence. The former spy chief’s defense is hoping that the sentence will be reduced due to Montesinos' willingness to cooperate with Peruvian courts.
Montesinos has been in prison since 2001, charged with numerous counts of corruption schemes and human rights violations. A former army officer and lawyer who defended drug traffickers in the 1980s, he became the head of Peru’s intelligence services during the Fujimori administration in the 1990s.
As one of Fujimori’s closest aides, he oversaw efforts to defeat rebel groups including the Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary movement.
But his actions also led to the collapse of Fujimori’s presidency, after clandestine tapes emerged that showed him paying bribes to congressmen, businessmen and media moguls, in an effort to buy support for Fujimori’s government.
Montesinos’ latest court hearing comes as Fujimori gets ready to face an inquiry over his own involvement in the Pativilca massacre.
The former president, now 85, was released from prison in December, after Peru’s constitutional court ruled that a presidential pardon that had been awarded to Fujimori in 2017 should be upheld.
Fujimori is a polarizing figure in Peru, where supporters credit him for defeating rebel groups and correcting the nation’s economy, following years of hyperinflation and product scarcities. His critics describe him as a dictator who dissolved congress, intimidated journalists and committed numerous human rights abuses as he fought rebel groups.
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